Eating frog legs for dinner? Add a little salt to them before cooking and they might put on a show for you -- even when they're not attached to the frog's body.
It's an amazing quirk, but a pinch of salt can make the legs of dead frogs twitch and writhe as if they've been brought back to life, according to an episode of "Outrageous Acts Of Science," a Science Channel series.
Biologist Adam Ruben said the twitchy phenomenon happens because some cells still stay alive long after the creature is brain dead.
"If you die, you’ve got lots of cells in you that will be around for weeks to come," he said on the show. "It’s the same thing with these frogs. You have living cells, still attached to workable machinery. So if you can fool those cells into thinking that they need to move, they will actually start to move and flex and do what cells do."
Ruben said salt is the trigger that makes the legs think they are alive and kicking.
"In this case, you can fake the signal that the brain is sending [by using] salt which has positively charged sodium ions, which is exactly what tells the nerves when to fire," he said on the show. "And so that gets into the nerve cells, they tell the muscle cells to contract, and you can make the frog dance."
Not everyone is likely to try the frog leg can can, according to Saar Sadwana, a published scientist and standup comic.
"I sure hope Kermit isn’t watching that video," he said. "Although Miss Piggy, she might like it."